PRESS RELEASE: Archbishop Desmond Tutu to visit Zambia to encourage efforts to end child marriage
Tuesday 9 September 2014
Archbishop Desmond Tutu will visit Zambia from 15-18 September 2014, to support and encourage efforts to end child marriage.
Archbishop Tutu, founding Chair of The Elders and co-founder of Girls Not Brides: The Global Partnership to End Child Marriage, will be joined by Mabel van Oranje, Chair of Girls Not Brides.
Archbishop Tutu said:
“As an African man and a defender of human rights throughout my life, I was shocked to learn that millions of girls are married every year in Africa and worldwide, with devastating consequences. It is essential that we all work together to free our daughters and sisters from this harmful practice. That is why I have decided to give the fight to end child marriage my all – with the same commitment that I gave to the struggle against apartheid.
“I look forward to learning about Zambia’s efforts to end child marriage and to meeting many wonderful people who are working for the rights of girls and women in this country.”
Every year, an estimated 15 million girls around the world are married before they turn 18, often with no choice about when or whom they marry. In total UNICEF estimates that around 700 million women who are alive today were married as children.
While boys can be victims of child marriage, girls are disproportionately affected. Child brides almost always drop out of school and quickly become pregnant, perpetuating cycles of poverty and ill health. Girls under 18 are five times more likely to die during pregnancy or labour than women in their early 20s, and their children are much less likely to survive the first years of life. Child brides are also more vulnerable to forced sex and domestic violence.
Child marriage is practised across all religions, ethnicities and continents. The highest rates of child marriage are in South Asia and sub-Saharan Africa. Rates of child marriage are declining slowly, but absolute numbers could increase with population growth if efforts are not accelerated.
Mabel van Oranje, Chair of Girls Not Brides said:
“It is only in the past few years that awareness of the scale and impact of child marriage has started to reach the global development agenda. As more information is collected and analysed, we can see even more clearly that child marriage is a major hindrance to progress in health, education and economic development as well as being a terrible violation of human rights.
“During our visit to Zambia, we look forward to learning about the national campaign to end child marriage and to hearing the views of government and civil society representatives and young people. We are especially keen to learn from girls themselves about their experiences and views on child marriage and their hopes for the future.”
Media opportunities during the visit include:
- Press conference: 9am Thursday 18 September
To register for the press conference and to receive updates and further media releases, please send your name, organisation and contact details by email to:
Rina Mukumba, Zambia Institute of Mass Communication
ABOUT GIRLS NOT BRIDES
Girls Not Brides is a global partnership of more than 400 civil society organisations from over 60 countries, united by a commitment to end child marriage and enable girls to fulfil their potential.
Follow @GirlsNotBrides on Twitter: www.twitter.com/GirlsNotBrides
Archbishop Desmond Tutu
Archbishop Desmond Tutu is one of the world’s best-known advocates for peace and human rights. He is Archbishop Emeritus of Cape Town, chaired South Africa’s Truth and Reconciliation Commission and is Nobel Peace Laureate (1984).
Archbishop Tutu is a founding member of The Elders, a group of eminent global leaders brought together by Nelson Mandela to promote peace and human rights. The Elders founded Girls Not Brides and played a critical role in bringing child marriage to the forefront of the international agenda.
Although he has retired from public life, Archbishop Tutu remains active in efforts to end child marriage.
Mabel van Oranje, Chair of Girls Not Brides
Mabel is the Chair of the Board for Girls Not Brides. From 2008 to 2012, Mabel was the first Chief Executive Officer of The Elders, a group of eminent global leaders brought together by Nelson Mandela to promote peace and human rights. Mabel led the consultations that shaped The Elders’ strategic decision to raise awareness about the often forgotten issue of child marriage and to create Girls Not Brides: The Global Partnership to End Child Marriage.
With over twenty years of experience in building partnerships for justice and change, Mabel’s vision has seen Girls Not Brides grow into a global partnership of over 400 civil society organisations that are based in over 60 countries, united by a commitment to end child marriage and enable girls to fulfill their potential.